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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: a new congress with old problems. 94 freshmen house and senate members were sworn in today as the most diverse legislature in american history opened for business. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, we profile this new congress with its record number of women and minorities and look at the hurdles ahead. >> brown: then, the cliffhanger and the cliffs to come. maya macguineas, robert reich, and douglas holtz-eakin debate the deal struck by congress and the white house. >> woodruff: margaret warner has the latest from india where the suspects in a new delhi gang- rape were officially charged with murder, rape, and kidnapping today. >> brown: the crisis beneath the streets. miles o'brien reports on a growing threat to the country's infrastructure-- aging sewer systems.
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>> in detroit, there are 3,500 miles of sewer lines, some of them dating back to the mid 19th century, the crumbling pipes offer a glimpse at a huge national engineering challenge that is largely unseen and unappreciated. >> woodruff: and ray suarez examines the changing face of cable television as al jezeera, the pan arab news giant, buys current tv, a television channel founded by al gore. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: on this third day of the new year, the u.s. congress officially re-convened for the 113th time. bringing a new set of faces, to join those already in place; and a familiar set of issues. with the prospect of more battles over taxes, spending and
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deficits. >> if the senators to be sworn will now present themselves at the desk. >> woodruff: high noon was swearing-in time in the senate today. vice president joe biden, who serves as senate president, administered the oath of office to the freshmen and re-elected members. >> do you so solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies foreign and domestic. >> woodruff: the ceremony came just hours after the old congress worked down to the wire, passing the fiscal cliff legislation. and, president obama, on vacation in hawaii, signed the bill into law on wednesday. on the senate floor today, republican minority leader mitch mcconnell, took note of the week's events. >> i'd like to welcome everybody back after what i realize was a somewhat abbreviated recess. >> woodruff: mcconnell's minority will be smaller still in the new senate. democrats now have 53 seats to 45 republicans and two independents will caucus with
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the democrats. in all, there are 12 newly elected senators: eight democrats, three republicans and one independent, angus king of maine. and five women won seats, bringing the total to 20-- the most ever. some other notables: tammy baldwin of wisconsin, the first openly gay person elected to the senate. and mazie hirono of hawaii, the first asian american woman. both are democrats. on the republican side, ted cruz of texas becomes just the third senator of hispanic heritage. and tim scott of south carolina- - appointed to fill the seat vacated by jim demint-- is the senate's only black member, and the first black republican senator since 1979. freshmen on both sides will now join, in earnest, the fight over spending and taxes, as majority leader reid made clear today. >> as we advance the debate over
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the best way to strengthen our economy and reduce our deficit during the 113th congress, democrats will continue to stand strong for the principle of balance. >> woodruff: on the house side, republicans are still in control, albeit with fewer members-- 233 to the democrats' 200. there will be 82 freshmen: 47 democrats and 35 republicans. as in the senate, the house now has a record number of women, 81 in all. minority leader nancy pelosi held a photo op today with the women of her democratic caucus this morning. but the spotlight today was primarily on house speaker john boehner. he's coming off bruising battles over the fiscal cliff bill, within his own caucus, and criticism for delaying a vote on hurricane sandy funding. boehner grew emotional as he addressed the chamber today. >> if you have come here humbled
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by the opportunity to serve; if you have come here to be the determined voice of the people; if you have come here to carry the standard of leadership demanded not just by our constituents but by the times, then you have come to the right place. >> woodruff: today, he won another two-year term as speaker with 220 votes. a dozen republicans either voted against him, voted present, or abstained. with the voting over, the speaker swore in the new house. >> congratulations, you are now members of the 113th congress! >> woodruff: one of the first orders of business will come tomorrow, a vote on the first installment of sandy aid. then, there's a full plate of challenges left by the last congress. within the next two months, the lawmakers will again face the prospect of automatic spending
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cuts and the need to raise the nation's debt ceiling. >> brown: still to come on the "newshour" tonight: weighing the fiscal cliff deal; charges in the india gang rape case; the country's crumbling sewage system and an expanding american reach for al jazeera. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: for another member of congress, today marked an especially momentous return to work. republican senator mark kirk of illinois suffered a stroke 10 months ago, and had to learn how to walk again. today, he climbed the 45 steps of the capitol, with vice president biden and west virginia senator joe manchin on hand for support. secretary of state hillary clinton will return to work at the state department sometime next week. clinton was discharged yesterday from a new york hospital, where she had been treated for a blood clot in her head. a state department spokeswoman said clinton is now resting at her home in new york, but wants to get back to washington.
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>> some of the senior staff who spoke to her half an hour ago said that she's sounding >> some of the senior staff who spoke to her half an hour ago said that she's sounding terrific, upbeat, raring to go. she's looking forward to getting back to the office. she is very much planning to do so next week and we'll have further precise details about that as she continues to make progress. >> sreenivasan: clinton is stepping down soon. senator john kerry has been nominated to be the next secretary of state. classes resumed today for the connecticut children whose school was the scene of a december massacre. 20 children and six adults were killed at sandy hook elementary school in newtown, nearly three weeks ago. scene, so today, more than 400 students were welcomed back to a freshly refurbished school in the nearby town of monroe. they arrived amid heightened security, as police lieutenant
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keith white looked on. >> watching them get off the bus, most of the kids were excited. they had seen friends they hadn't seen in awhile. they were anxious to get into the hallways and meet up with you could see the teachers had the same response. they were quite excited to see the students all together. >> sreenivasan: in a bid to ease any tensions, classrooms were made to resemble the ones at sandy hook. and, parents were allowed to visit their children throughout the day. fighting raged in syria today around key areas that have seen repeated attacks and counter- attacks. in the northwest, rebels made a new attempt to storm a strategic air base in idlib province. state-run media said government troops forced them to retreat. and in damascus, opposition activists reported new government air strikes and shelling in the southern suburbs. the military has been tryg 10:00 in the morning, i know that they need something in their stomach, juice, soda, pastries-- a treat. i know junk food isn't healthy, but they want it and i have to take advantage of what they want. >> reporter: in the countryside, tortillas are still made the old fashioned way. but local health officials say the change in diet is a matter
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of economics. >> ( translated ): we ate real food. food, fruit, carts would go by selling chilled fruit and real food. but now, junk food is cheaper this shouldn't be. how is it possible that a tortilla chip is cheaper than a tortilla?
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